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Mariners eager to return to routine

Mariners eager to return to routine

Mariners eager to return to routine
OAKLAND -- To a man, the Mariners seem to have enjoyed their trip to Tokyo for the Opening Series and the unique week in Japan that kicked off their season. But they're all eager to get back into the normal routine of a 162-game season, or the 160 games that remain after going 1-1 against the A's in the Tokyo Dome.

"I think we all knew it would be kind of a test of motivation coming back to Spring Training No. 2, so re-Opening Day is quite welcome," shortstop Brendan Ryan said prior to Friday's resumption of regular-season play with the A's. "Spring Training always wears on you. But to go from at-bats and games that really matter to another week of spring, well, this will be a breath of fresh air."

Second baseman Dustin Ackley said the seven days between Tokyo and the resumption of play was critical for him, as he needed most of it to get over an illness that hit several players following their return.

"For me, it's just good to not be sick anymore," Ackley said. "When we got back, I just felt terrible and lost weight and was sick, so that put a damper on a bunch of things. But that trip back to Arizona definitely helped get my body some rest and able to start the season right.

"Hopefully, everything works out in the end. I'm not quite back to the weight I was before we left, but a couple good meals and I'll be fine. I feel great now. I've adjusted back to all the time and everything, so I'm good."

And now the chance to play every day and get into the usual baseball grind?

"This is the part I've been waiting for," Ackley said. "I think this is what we all look forward to."

Count Felix Hernandez in that group, as well. The Mariners' ace will pitch on Saturday, 10 days after his Opening Day outing in Tokyo against the A's. He threw four innings in a Cactus League game on Monday to stay sharp, but looks forward to getting into his normal pitching rhythm.

"Yup, it's good to be back and in a five-day rotation," Hernandez said. "It's another season, and I'm pretty excited about this."

That seemed a unanimous feeling on Friday in the Mariners' clubhouse.

"Everything we've gone through, we had to go through," said manager Eric Wedge. "There's no getting around it. Our guys have handled it very well. But now that we're here, we can get into our routine. We know we can play from day to day, and I think everybody is excited to do that."

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